SARASOTA, Fla. – When the Orioles signed outfielder Craig Gentry on Feb. 18, it was a signing that didn’t get much notice among the team’s fans. Gentry had hardly played in the previous two seasons, but so far during spring training, the 33-year-old has been one of camp’s great stories.
In 2015 and 2016, Gentry appeared in just 40 games for Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels, batting .120 and .147 respectively.
Gentry is batting .306 in 19 games with two home runs and seven RBIs.
While so much attention has been focused in the past few days on the addition of Pedro Alvarez and
his right field experiment
, Gentry’s spring training excellence has gone unnoticed by most.
"I’ve been working hard. I’ve gotten some results lately, so that’s always encouraging and love being here and love the opportunity that they’ve given me, so really enjoying this," he said.
Gentry has had a variety of injuries in recent years, and other than a slight groin injury last week, he’s been strong.
"I’ve recovered and I feel healthy and your perspective changes a lot. I’m trying to put those years behind me and move on. Hopefully, get an opportunity here and make the most of it," Gentry said.
Gentry came to the Orioles at the recommendation of hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, who knew the outfielder when he had his best years with Texas in 2012 and 2013.
"He was huge. He went to bat for me, and he got me here. I’m very grateful for that. He was huge, and he helps a lot. I work with him all the time. He’s a great hitting coach. There’s a lot of comfort there. We understand each other, and it’s an easy relationship," Gentry said.
In 2012, Gentry hit .304 in 122 games for the Rangers with a .367 on-base percentage, and a year later, hit .280 in 106 games with a .373 OBP.
Besides his on-base percentage, Gentry’s speed is an attraction for the Orioles. From 2011-2014, Gentry stole 75 bases in 87 attempts (86.2 percent).
Manager Buck Showalter has long been a fan of Gentry’s.
"I’m telling you, about two or three years ago, he was, I thought, the best fourth outfielder in baseball – a plus defender at three positions, plus thrower, plus runner, did well against left-handed pitching and could play at times against right-handed pitching if you needed. He brought a lot of energy, a smart player," Showalter said.
This spring, Gentry has shown off some power. In 457 major league games, he has just four home runs, and none since Aug. 21, 2013. He’s already hit two.
"I was able to get some good swings on a couple of pitches. That’s what I attribute it to. I work hard every day and just was able to work out like that. I can’t really attribute it to one specific thing," Gentry said.
He’s shown off the speed, too. On March 18, he stole third base, something not often seen by an Oriole.
Showalter has been playing Gentry often in center and left with Adam Jones playing in the World Baseball Classic, and he’s seen enough to show him Gentry can make the club.
"You know sometimes with guys like him and Joey [Rickard] who have had some challenges physically, you want to say, OK, that’s good. Don’t play anymore," Showalter said.
GAUSMAN DAZZLES: Kevin Gausman pitched five scoreless innings in the Detroit Tigers’ 7-1 win over the Orioles before the team’s third sellout of the spring, 8,105 at Ed Smith Stadium.
Gausman allowed two hits, walked one and struck out eight.
"I felt good, really with every pitch. It all starts with fastball command. I was able to throw my change and slider off that. Feeling good. Any time you go out there and throw three consistent pitches. Today I felt like I could throw them in any count, that’s definitely going towards what we want," Gausman said.
"I think the biggest thing, especially for a starter is getting up and down five times. That was my goal today, to get to my pitch count and get up and down five times. When you can do that, it helps progress you to the next outing, which I’ll probably do six innings, 85 pitches ... with today being five, and I think 75. I think it was just good to get out there and get up and down five times."
Gausman hasn’t officially been named the Orioles’ Opening Day starter, but that announcement should come soon.
"There’s some things in my delivery that aren’t feeling like they’re going to feel during the season. My stride was a little shorter today than it normally is, and I think that has something to do with during the season, I have more adrenaline. Obviously, the games mean a little bit more. Mentally, I was into every pitch. Physically and mentally, I feel like I’m just about there. With I think 12 days left in camp, I’ll take that feeling," Gausman said.
CUTS: The Orioles optioned right-handed pitcher Jesus Liranzo to Double-A Bowie. Liranzo allowed three runs in eight innings this spring. Detroit’s John Hicks hit a two-run homer in the ninth off him March 19. He also hit two batters.
Showalter feels that Liranzo needs to go to Bowie to work on his control.
Outfielder Logan Schafer, first baseman/outfielder David Washington and catcher Austin Wynns were reassigned to minor league camp.
Schafer was 3-for-31 (.097) in 18 games. Washington hit .143 (3-for-21) with two home runs and a double. Wynns played in three games.
The Orioles have 46 players on their spring training roster, 12 of them non-roster players. 46 players on their spring training roster, 12 of them non-roster players.
COMING UP: The Orioles play the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers on March 20 at 1:05 p.m. Wade Miley faces Kyle Kendrick. … Showalter originally wanted to take infielder Ryan Flaherty (sore right arm) to the game, but is now looking to a March 21 return.